Idled Cape Breton mill gets $1.5 million court approved cash injection

Money for NewPage's Port Hawkesbury mill comes from a $15.8-million provincial fund to keep the mill in a so-called hot idle mode.

August 31, 2012   by The Canadian Press

HALIFAX—A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge has approved the spending of $1.5 million in public funds to help an idled Cape Breton get ready to restart.

The money for the NewPage Port Hawkesbury mill comes from a $15.8-million fund set up by the provincial government to help keep the mill in a so-called hot idle mode.

Judge John Murphy had adjourned his decision on the approval earlier this week, saying he needed to hear from interested parties.

Peter Wedlake, chief restructuring officer for court-appointed monitor Ernst & Young, says the funds will be used to bring back workers and buy supplies.

He says prospective buyer Pacific West Commercial Corp. is also ready to provide up to $500,000 towards the preparations.

He says the goal is to be ready to produce paper as soon as the deal to buy the mill is closed in late September.

The mill in Point Tupper closed last September, throwing about 600 employees out of work and affecting another 400 forestry contractors.

Vancouver-based Pacific West Commercial has indicated it wants to buy the mill for $33 million and restart one of two machines at the plant.

The province recently announced a $124.5-million financial package for the mill and the Utility and Review Board also approved a new discounted power rate.

The Canada Revenue Agency still has to give its approval of the arrangement.

Pacific West has said it plans to call about 300 employees back to work by late September or early October.

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